There are few groups more delusional than the tea parties, but John Hinderaker of Powerline is apparently trying to give them a run for their money. In the Glenn Reynolds-linked  post "Tea Party Majority"  he says the following about the image below:
One could draw many conclusions from this, but I would suggest two. First, far from being a fringe phenomenon, the Tea Party movement represents the solid core of mainstream American opinion. Second, when the Republicans take control of Congress, they should not be afraid to cut spending and programs.
That's just, well, nuts. The underlying tea party ideology is indeed fringe, and provably so: they are to one degree or another libertarians. Some of them - such as Reynolds - are believers in Ayn Rand and thus even more fringe than "mainstream" libertarians. Needless to say, the Libertarian party and small-l libertarians aren't an electoral force. Further, the teapartiers are almost completely comprised of a subset of Republicans and independents. Very few Democrats support the tea parties, and not all Republicans support them either. To do math in the Hinderaker style, a majority of Obama voters would have had to switch to the tea parties, and that did not happen. Now, some of the other ideas of some teapartier followers - such as a general interest in reducing illegal immigration - are indeed majority opinion. However, they aren't stressing that but their fringe economic ideas.
The way to explain the chart is that respondents certainly would like a smaller government and lower taxes... until they actually see what would happen. Try and take away their benefits, or make them drive on bumpy roads, or reduce border protections even more, and see what they say. Not to mention the indirect impact that a reduction in public spending would have, such as increasing social strife. Very few Americans actually want to live in a libertarian paradise like Somalia.
A more honest poll would ask how much they want government decreased and would ask if they'd still support those changes given the direct and indirect impacts on them.
Tue, 09/07/2010 - 21:16 · Importance: 4